Sunday, July 24, 2016

5 Reasons Every Growing Business Needs Customer Intelligence

Collecting data is relatively easy. Everyone collects data.

Finding smart, efficient ways to use that data to land new customers and build great customer relationships is much less common, and that's why doing so can dramatically improve sales and boost long-term revenue.

The following is from Chad Kutting, general manager of SalesforceIQ CRM, the intelligent CRM system that helps small businesses gain deeper insights into customer needs so they can focus on connecting with their customers and closing deals.

Here's Chad:

We've all heard the expression, "It's not personal; it's just business."

Well, don't believe it. Business is always personal, especially when you're a small or fast-growing company. The problem is, great relationships take a lot of work and attention to detail--but busy sales reps rarely have an extra moment to spare.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that customers know your business has tons of relevant data, so their expectations for a personalized experience are higher than ever. But data by itself isn't enough to take a customer relationship to the next level.

What your business really needs is "customer intelligence." Data is merely facts and figures. Customer intelligence is the actionable understanding and insight that comes from analyzing and contextualizing that data in real time. In other words, it's the critical step that takes customer data and converts it from practical to personal.

To illustrate the difference, here are five ways customer intelligence can help you grow your business faster and smarter.

1. Make the best connections.

Would you rather make a cold call or turn up the heat on a warm connection? Most people feel more comfortable with the latter--and research shows it's also a far more effective approach.

LinkedIn found that business-to-business buyers are five times more likely to engage when the outreach is through a mutual connection. Intelligence can help you find connections in the data of customers, colleagues, and partners to help you generate new opportunities, map the most direct path to decision makers, or identify alternative leads in case the one you're pursuing fizzles out.

2. Drive customer success.

If your customers are successful, it's great for your business. If they know you contributed to their success, it's even better.

Customer intelligence drives your mutual success by giving you full insight into every customer's history. When you know a customer's business requirements inside out, you can proactively recommend the best products at the right time. That way your customers always have what they need--and you never miss an opportunity to make a sale.

Complete histories also let you immediately connect customers with the right experts in your company to resolve issues quickly and close deals faster.

3. Elevate sales efficiency.

Productivity is where customer intelligence really shines, and that's a huge win considering research shows that the average sales rep spends only one-third of his or her time actually selling.

Customer intelligence comes to the rescue by reducing or eliminating time-consuming manual data entry, organization, analysis, and search. It enables reps to more easily see which accounts have the most potential. It can help identify new opportunities that are a good fit for deals already in progress.

And when entire teams have access to the same customer information, everyone can be ready to close deals at a moment's notice.

4. Cut costs.

It costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one--five to 30 times more, according to many studies.

Customer intelligence can avoid those costs in at least two, simple ways. First, it helps you identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities for deals already in progress so you get the greatest value out of the customers you've already earned. Second, it helps you find untapped connections and opportunities in the relationships you already have instead of paying for dead-end leads in expensive contact lists.

5. Retain company knowledge.

Your customer data is a gold mine--but, right now, most of the wealth is probably untapped and unusable in emails, calendars, spreadsheets, sticky notes, and many other places.

Customer intelligence technology gathers all those nuggets of information and keeps them in a shared vault your entire team can access anytime. If employees leave for other opportunities, their knowledge has already been captured and shared. And as your sales team grows, the complete customer histories they need are right at their fingertips to get them up to speed quickly.

Because your business is built on relationships, you need to run them as intelligently and efficiently as any other process--without sacrificing the personal touch. Customer intelligence is designed to strike the perfect balance by keeping you on track with tasks and in tune with customers at all times.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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